Drug addict who stole two charity boxes to feed habit avoids jail - for now

Lee White, 37,stole collection tins belonging to Rowans Hospice and Little Hearts Matter from  the Robert Dyas store in Southsea in January
Lee White, 37,stole collection tins belonging to Rowans Hospice and Little Hearts Matter from the Robert Dyas store in Southsea in January
St David's Road in Fratton, Portsmouth. Picture: Google Maps

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A DRUG addict who stole two charity boxes to feed his habit was spared jail – for now.

Lee White, 37, took the tins belonging to Rowans Hospice and Little Hearts Matter from the Robert Dyas store in Southsea in January.

The defendant marched out of the store with the boxes under his jacket, Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard.

But despite receiving an 18-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months for a similar offence in November after he stole two Poppy Appeal collection boxes, magistrates decided to adjourn the case to give the defendant a stay of execution and see whether he can continue his recent progress.

Prosecutor Andrew Newman told the court White, of Lidiard Gardens, had committed a total of 111 offences largely related to theft and burglary throughout his life.

White was previously jailed for 12 weeks in 2016 after stealing four charity collection tins from city pubs. He also spent time in prison last year – being released in August – and will be supervised by the probation service until August, 2018.

Defending, Rhys Evans, said White was not a lost cause and had responded well to treatment after being diagnosed with a personality disorder.

‘He had a tragic childhood where his father would beat him which led to his drug misuse,’ he said.

Mr Evans went on to say how The News’s report of White’s previous theft of charity tins resulted in him being ‘physically assaulted by members of the public’ angry with his callous thieving as well as losing his chance of council housing after the authority subsequently pulled the plug.

‘[White] is deeply remorseful for his actions and is in a precarious position. He is deeply fearful of going back to prison again,’ Mr Evans added.

The court heard how White was working with mental health services, had been referred for counselling and was waiting to find out if he would get funding to go to a drug rehab centre.

Presiding magistrate Philip Laws agreed to give White a final chance after listening to the defence. ‘Your offences are not being treated lightly but we’ve never seen so many people in court to help someone. Lots of people want to see you get your life back on track,’ he said.

White, who pleaded guilty to two counts of theft, will appear back at court on April 3. He was granted unconditional bail.